Auburn University offering COVID-19 testing for all, awaiting quality antibody test

Alabama News

AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – Auburn University Medical Clinic is now offering drive-through COVID-19 testing to the general public. With testing supplies widely available now, WRBL News 3 decided to take our viewers inside what the testing process is like.

News 3’s Elizabeth White volunteered. AU’s Medical Clinic gave Elizabeth permission to video and share the process while she was alone in her vehicle in an effort to educate the public. Elizabeth was the only vehicle at the testing site at the time of her appointment. For other parts of her story, Elizabeth used AU’s video describing the testing process.

“It went well. The nurses at the AU Clinic are extremely professional and kind. I’ve been staying at home for the past month. I did get out a few times to cover urgent news but did not feel like I was exposed. However, with testing kits available for all, testing was a valuable experience I wanted our viewers to see,” shared White.

The first phase of testing begins at home with a phone call to the AU Medical Clinic at 334-844-9825. The screening phone call includes a medical history and cost options based on insurance. For more information, you can visit the Auburn University COVID-19 informational website.

“Now, we can test anyone who wants a test. We are looking forward to getting that data and helping people figure out how to care for themselves and their families if they are positive. We are helping businesses as well, ” said AU Medical Clinic Director Dr. Frederick Kam.

When you arrive for your appointment, you are asked to stay in your vehicle with the windows rolled up until staff in PPE are ready to greet you. Contamination control is paramount.

Every step is explained. You are asked to face forward-looking at your steering wheel with your head flush to the back on your headrest. The staff even cheer you on during the final step as the swab goes up both nostrils.

“I found it easier to inhale the entire time for both nostrils. The test is slightly uncomfortable but not painful, and it was nice to hear the medical staff encouraging you as you went on. It wasn’t bad,” said White.

Dr. Kam says AU medical is working with individuals and businesses to test the public. Results include a detailed follow-up and medical care if you are positive.

The AU Medical Clinic is NOT testing for antibodies yet. Dr. Kam is hopeful IGG antibody found in convalescent plasma used to treat some COVID-19 patients in ICU may provide lasting immunity for recovered patients. While researchers have positive opinions, Dr. Kam is clear confirmation data is lacking.

“It’s still an unknown if a person gets the disease and develops an antibody if that antibody is protective. That’s unknown. If you can or can’t get re-infected is also unknown,” shared Dr. Kam.

The AU clinic is actively seeking a quality FDA approved antibody test that can provide measurable data useful for families and the community. The clinic does hope to offer an Antibody test to the public soon.

Meanwhile, the virus is here to stay, and a second wave is anticipated. Until a proven treatment is available, and with Dr. Kam believing mass vaccinations are least 15-18 months away, he continues urging the community to take precautions.

“What has worked is social distancing, cough etiquette, hand hygiene, mask, and all of that is what we need to stick with because that is what has worked,” said Dr. Kam.

Dr. Kam says he worries most about those who are sick but don’t have symptoms because they are more likely to spread the virus unknowingly. Dr. Kam recommends testing for anyone who believes they may have been exposed. He also urges mask-wearing in public at all times.

Finally, Dr. Kam wants to thank the community. He believes the vast majority are staying at home as much as they can, and it did flatten the curve, stopping a potential crisis at our medical centers by preventing patient overflow.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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